James Shields said being traded to the White Sox “was a little bittersweet.” After all, he was playing in his hometown, which happens to be one of the nicest places in the country to live year round.
“I live in San Diego, it’s my home and I signed to go there, we had big plans to go there,” Shields said. “But things change. I’m really excited to be here in Chicago. I’ve always loved the city, love the town, my kids love the town. So I’m excited to do some things here.”
The Sox traded minor leaguers Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr. to get Shields on Saturday. The workhorse right-hander with nine straight seasons of 200 innings or more and postseason experience comes from the San Diego Padres, who won’t make the postseason this season, to the Sox, who think they can despite a current slide that dropped them from 13 games over .500 to one over going into their game Tuesday against the Washington Nationals.
“I’m here to do my job and that’s to pitch once every five days,” said Shields, who will pitch Wednesday. “I’ve been on a lot of teams where we’ve gotten a new guy, sometimes having a new face in the clubhouse will change the atmosphere a little bit, kind of change the mood a little bit. I’ve been around a lot of winning cultures, I’ve been in the playoffs quite a bit. I know how to win. I think this team has been great. Looking from afar, they look like they have a blast. They have fun, which I’m really excited about.”
Shields made eight quality starts in his first 10 for the Padres before getting routed in his 11th — allowing 10 runs in a 16-4 loss at Seattle. A day later, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told a San Diego radio station the Padres’ and Shields’ performances were “embarrassing.”
“To have a starter like Shields perform as poorly as he did yesterday is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him,” Fowler said.
Shields told the radio station Fowler was wrong for singling him out. Shields signed a four-year, $75 million contract with San Diego in Feb. 2015.
Talking to Chicago media Tuesday for the first time since the trade, Shields wasn’t as harsh.“As a competitor, I felt the same way, I was frustrated with losing games over there,” he said. “But obviously to single me out, I don’t know if that was the right move or not. But here I am. My mom and my dad always said things happen for a reason. I’m here in Chicago and hopefully we can win some ballgames here.”Shields makes his Sox debut Wednesday when he’ll be opposed by the Nationals’ Max Scherzer.“Fun-loving guy. Plays the game hard,” Sox third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He’s a guy we need. We’ve got a new face in here, a little more smiles on everyone’s faces, and we’ll see what he has tomorrow.“Hopefully, he can bring some more energy and we can start putting up some more runs and that’ll take care of winning. Winning takes care of everything.”